Mines News

Release Date Friday, August 19, 2016

SD Mines Innovation

From faculty patent holders to university-incubated businesses taking first in statewide business competition three years running, SD Mines is a hotbed of innovation. While there are no easy degrees at Mines, we give students the personal attention they need to succeed in this cutting-edge space – with a 15:1 student-to-faculty ratio. This focus on excellence in face-to-face undergraduate education is increasingly rare in American universities and is just one of the things that makes Mines different.

At Mines, students dive in from day one. Over the last four years, Mines start-ups have taken first place in the statewide business competition three times and first place in the student competition twice.

Last year, a team of faculty and administrators from Mines was selected to participate in the Pathways to Innovation Program designed to help institutions fully incorporate innovation and entrepreneurship into undergraduate engineering education.

South Dakota Mines is among 14 universities nationwide selected by the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter), which runs the program. Epicenter is funded by the National Science Foundation and directed by Stanford University and the VentureWell.

Engineering is the foundation of much of the innovation required to maintain America’s global competitiveness and address pressing problems. Faculty and administrators participating in the program will lead universities into a new era of engineering education that prepares students to tackle big problems and thrive in the ever-changing economy.

“Increasing opportunities for students to be involved in innovation and creating an ecosystem that supports innovation is a priority for Mines,” said South Dakota Mines President Heather Wilson. “This is one way in which we will chart our path forward.”

The team from SD Mines will assess the university’s current offerings, design a unique strategy for change and lead peers in a transformation process to broaden and strengthen campus-based innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystems.

Michael Langerman, Ph.D., head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, and Darren Haar, SD Mines Entrepreneur in Residence, along with the full Mines team and others in the cohort, will analyze the needs and opportunities at individual schools and develop plans for transforming the undergraduate engineering experience.

Other member of the Mines Pathways to Innovation team: James Green, Caterpillar (retired); Paul Hinker, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Mathematics & Computer Science; Kayhan Karatekeli, Department of Mathematics & Computer Science; Jon Kellar, Ph.D., professor, Department of Materials & Metallurgical Engineering; Mike Selzer, SD Mines Foundation; Larry Simonson, Ph.D., SD Mines Foundation; Joseph Wright, associate vice president, Office of Research and Economic Development.

Teams will receive access to models for integrating entrepreneurship into engineering curriculum, custom online resources, networking opportunities, guidance from a community of engineering and entrepreneurship faculty, and membership in a national network of schools with similar goals. 

The teams in the new cohort join a community of 36 institutional teams that are currently participating in the program. The projects include innovation certificates and majors, maker and flexible learning spaces, first-year and capstone courses, faculty fellows programs, and innovation centers. Additionally, several cross-institutional collaborations have resulted from the first group of schools.

“Today, engineering and computer science students are expected to enter industry with technical knowledge as well as a diverse set of mindsets, skillsets and attitudes that help them innovate, collaborate and create value,” said Tom Byers, director and co-principal investigator of Epicenter and professor at Stanford University. “As educators, we need to better prepare this generation of students for the workforce, position them for success in their careers, and give them more opportunities to bring their innovative ideas to life.”

Learn more about the Pathways to Innovation Program at http://epicenter.stanford.edu/pathways-to-innovation.

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About SD Mines  

Founded in 1885, the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology is a science and engineering research university located in Rapid City, S.D., offering bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. The university enrolls 2,778 students with a student-to-faculty ratio of 15:1. The SD School of Mines placement rate for graduates is 97 percent, with an average starting salary of more than $61,300. Find us online at www.sdsmt.edu and on  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Snapchat